book tag

The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag (2018)

Thursday, June 21, 2018

I did this tag last year (The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2017) and had such fun talking about all the books I've read so far that I wanted to make sure to do it again. I saw this post most recently over at Paperfury but I'm not sure who the original creator of this tag is. So far, I've read 53 books which is a little less than last year but I'm still hoping to beat my total of 102 so we shall see. Let's chat about some of my favorites this year:

The best book you've read so far in 2018:


Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen: Why aren't more people talking about this one? It's an absolutely fantastic fantasy with an empowering female lead! Read my review where I gush about how amazing it is!

Your favorite sequel of the year:


Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs: I went to this thinking it was going to be the finale of the series. However, not long after I finished the book, the publisher announced the fourth book will be releasing soon. I couldn't have been more happier. The action was great in this one and I was so satisfied with the end. Still, I'm looking forward to seeing how Riggs follows up the original trilogy and what other adventures these characters can go on.

A new release that you haven't read but really want to:


Totally unintentional in that I chose all contemporaries for this. I suppose with summer just around the corner, I'm in need of some fluff in my life. I've been hearing amazing things about From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon and after the adorable When Dimple Met Rishi, I can't wait to read everything Menon writes! I haven't read many books by Morgan Matson but Save the Date sounds like the perfect summer read. Plus, that cover is so much fun! Ship It by Britta Lundin isn't a book I've heard much about but it sounds like something I would enjoy.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year:


How could I pick just one? Mirage by Somaiya Daud (8/28/18) sounds like a crazy fantasy! A girl is kidnapped and taken to the palace because she looks exactly like the princess - and then she starts falling for the princess' fiance. Yes, please. Black Wings Beating by Alex London (9/25/18) sounds like a great read too! Twins journey to find the one thing they believe will stop the war. And last but not least, The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee (10/2/18) is coming out and I just can't! This is going to be so amazing!

Your biggest disappointment:


It's unfortunate that there is more than one for this section. I had the highest of expectations going into Heartless by Marissa Meyer and they just weren't met. I expected a different sort of retelling and didn't get it. Same with Brooding YA Hero by Carrie DiRisio. I love the Twitter account so I picked this up, not really knowing what to expect. Part story, part writing guide was what readers got and it just wasn't for me. Allegiant by Veronica Roth, ugh. I don't even think it needs an explanation. 

Biggest surprise of the year:


Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre: I don't like science fiction so I was pretty sure I wouldn't like this. Especially since from what I've read by Aguirre, I never could quite warm up to the writing. So it was such a lovely surprise when I truly loved this book!

Favorite new-to-you or debut author:


V.E. Schwab (author of A Darker Shade of Magic): So much love! The writing is absolutely phenomenal and I can't wait to read more from her.

Your fictional crush:


Rishi from When Dimple Met Rishi: Rishi, the romantic! He is such a sweetheart, so kind and amazing!

Kell and Rhy from A Darker Shade of Magic: I couldn't choose between the two! They are both amazing in their own ways. Kell is so reserved and cool. Whereas Rhy is always trying to get your attention.

Mati from The Impossibility of Us: These boys all have a special place in my heart, including Mati who is absolutely lovely. He's a gorgeous writer and such a kind person. Plus, he's undeniably handsome.

New favorite character:


Hence from Catherine: I wouldn't call him my favorite character. However, I am so intrigued by his character. I want to know more about him and his actions. Catherine is a retelling of Wuthering Heights and Hence is the Heathcliff character of the story. There are just so many questions to ask pertaining to him.

Branwen from Sweet Black Waves: From the inspiration of a tale of Tristan and Isolde comes Sweet Black Waves, a story that takes the original tale and turns it upside down. Instead of Isolde getting the man, it's Branwen, her lady in waiting. Branwen is strong but still trying to figure things out. Her unsure-ness is really what makes her stand out among other protagonists.

Mariko from Flame in the Mist: Mariko is the best - as much as Flame in the Mist is marketed as a retelling of Mulan, I really didn't see it. Despite Mariko not being a version of Mulan, she's still an awesome character who knows how to kick butt. She's incredibly intelligent and her witty and clever remarks are what make her a character I would love to be friends with.

A book that made you cry:


After You by Jojo Moyes: I never really made the decision to read the sequel to Me Before You. I thought it was fine as a standalone. It wasn't until someone gifted me the sequel that I finally gave in. After You was not what I was expecting. From the way Me Before You ended, I expected to see an epic Europe adventure. Instead, what we get is a rough journey leaving without him. It was hard and realistic and just getting over my expectations made me so sad.

A book that made you happy:


So many books have made me happy this year so far! Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby not only reminded me of a kdrama I had once binge-watched but it also made my heart so full. It was so adorable and meaningful! A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas is a novella to A Court of the Thorns and Roses series. It was so great seeing all my favorite characters again. And Geekerella by Ashley Poston was an answer my little fandom heart didn't know I had asked for. It was cute and heartwarming!

Favorite book-to-movie adaptation:


So I can't really say much about the book vs. movie since I haven't read the book yet. However, Love, Simon was such an amazing movie! 

The most beautiful book you bought/received this year:


The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser | Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs | All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

What are some books you need to read by the end of the year?


I have so many books I NEED to read by the end of the year. And, if we are being realistic, I won't be able to get to half of them. However, these three are the books that are definitely on my radar to read soon. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan is becoming a movie, which releases in August. I've refrained from watching the trailer but a lot of people have said it looks super cute. Markus Zusak has finally graced us with a new book, Bridge of Clay, that you can bet I will be devouring when it releases in October. His last book was The Book Thief so my expectations are very high for this one. And I've been meaning to get to an Adam Silvera book (maybe this year, I'll read They Both Die at the End) for years now. By the end of the year, I am making it my goal that I finish at least one book by Silvera.

I tag all of you! Let's get talking about our favorites of the year so far!

Top Ten Tuesday

10 Books I'm Reading This Summer (2018)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

This year has been going by so fast! And I still have so many books to read. I'm very much a mood reader so it's hard to pick a fixed TBR but if all things go well, I am most likely to read the 10 books from this list.


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is: Top 10 Books I'm Reading This Summer (2018):



Love, Life and the List by Kasie West: Anything by Kasie West should be devoured in the summer. Her romances are so fluffy that make for such fantastic summer reading!

Dawn of Legends by Eleanor Herman: I think this is the conclusion to the Blood of Gods and Royals series. And I can't wait to find out what happens to all the characters. Herman has created such a fantastic world with a HUGE cast so I'm looking forward to tying up all the loose ends on everyone's story.

The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman (7/31/18): This one sounds like another great summer read about a girl who moves to a small town after her brother dies in the war. In the town, she meets an Afghan boy who she falls for. My heart is so full! Can't wait!


War Storm by Victoria Aveyard: The conclusion to the Red Queen series! I'm still seething over that ending in King's Cage but hopefully, everything is taken care of in the finale. I have high expectations on this one. Let's hope it delivers.

Chemistry Lessons by Meredith Goldstein: This one is actually out today! It sounds like a unique contemporary. Maya finds her late mother's old work notes about enhancing human attraction. After Maya's boyfriend dumps her, she decides to continue with her mother's work which creates some hiccups in her love life. Interesting!

The Fandom by Anna Day: This one sounds so good! The protagonist and a group of friends are at a comic convention when they suddenly find themselves transported into one of their favorite fandoms. After accidentally causing the death of the main character from the series, they work to finish the character's journey before the villains get them. This sounds like another unique one that I need to read soon!



Grace and Fury by Tracey Banghart (7/31/18): Looking at my tbr as a whole for the summer, it looks like I'm focusing on fantasy and contemporary. I did not do that on purpose but I wonder if that is what I usually read during the summer. Grace and Fury releases in July but I'm already excited to read it. The tagline alone got me interested: "In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi Tessaro face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other in prison." Guessing by the cover- based on their headbands, I'd say that the woman on the right is the one in prison (though I never knew they had that much makeup in prison 😃).

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan: I want to read this one before the movie releases in August. I've been hearing amazing things about this series so I hope it lives up to my expectations.

A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan (8/14/18): I have to wait for August for this one. Yet, everyone who loves retellings will need this one in their life. This is a retelling of King Midas! How cool is that!


My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma: I've been reading some reviews on this one and it sounds like such a fluffy read! Certainly, for cuteness alone, it needs to be read during the warmer months!

What books are you reading this summer?

book review

Gorgeous Imagery Meets Tragedy | Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez

Friday, June 08, 2018

Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez

Publisher: Macmillan
Publication Date: 6/5/18
Pages: 448
Source: Netgalley; thank you, Macmillan!

Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them. As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what's right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she's ever loved. Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.
Inspired by the tragedy of Tristan and Isolde, Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez gives you a unique view into the romance we all thought we had known. Branwen, cousin and lady in waiting to Princess Essy, apprentices under her aunt, the Queen. When a man from the enemy’s land washes upon shore, Branwen struggles with herself to heal a dying man but also to heal a man whose colors are the same that killed her parents years before. What she did not expect, however, is to fall in love with the man, Tristan, who is keeping more secrets than she knows. In this gorgeously woven tale of romance, magic, and adventure, Sweet Black Waves is sure to sweep you off your feet.

favourite movies GIF

Unexpected

  • The story was completely unexpected. Most days, I usually go into books blind, not knowing anything about them. I went into Sweet Black Waves thinking it was a retelling of Tristan and Isolde from Isolde's lady in waiting's perspective. However, this gives the lady in waiting the spotlight and bumps the Isolde character to the sidelines. I enjoyed this take on the tale. Changing the position of the female character—from princess to lady in waiting—removes some conflicts of the original tale, leaving it open to Perez to spin the story differently. Even though I'm familiar with the original tale, Sweet Black Waves is still able to keep readers on their toes.
  • With most fantasy books, I always have trouble remembering characters’ names. Sweet Black Waves is no exception. As a guide for myself, I created a small character chart on who was who in the palace as the first part of the book seemed to introduce them so quickly. After a few chapters, the names and characters become much easier to differentiate.

Fantastical

  • The writing was absolutely superb. The imagery fully immerses readers into the story. The gorgeous oceanside setting captures the many fantastical elements riddled throughout the plot. The ship, the palace, and the cave—all the settings of the book—vividly take hold in readers’ minds. The writing was so poetic that I hope to read more from Perez in the future. 
  • There are some magical elements that added a high fantasy vibe to the story that I really enjoyed. It seemed to take the story to the next level. Through these elements, Perez gave us a look deeper into the character’s actions and was able to enhance the setting tenfold. Through it all, Sweet Black Waves was still able to encapsulate you in its fast pace. 
  • Essy, the princess, was unlikable. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t warm up to her. I found her a bit bratty and rude at times. However, I do entirely agree with her reactions to her current situation and do believe that Perez truly captured Essy’s age. Whereas, Branwen seems entirely the opposite. I adored Branwen; she was courageous, reserved and loyal. Next to Essy especially, she was an old soul which truly made the characters distinct from each other. The relationship the two had was remarkably done. Throughout the course of the novel, we got to see the ups and downs of their sisterly relationship.


charlize theron s GIF

Ending and What's to Come


  • Make sure to check out the author’s note in the back of the book as Perez discusses Tristan and Isolde, her inspiration of Sweet Black Waves.
  • The ending was predictable and not only if readers are familiar with the tale of Tristan and Isolde. Perez gives readers several instances where she screams the ending throughout the story. However, just because the ending was easy to foretell, it doesn’t make the book any less entertaining. If anything, the predictable-ness of the ending was a way to help you prepare to wait for the next installment. 
  • There will be a sequel as this is the first book in a trilogy. I can't wait to check in with all the characters and see how Branwen is doing in her journey. Perez left it off well but it’ll be interesting to see where she leads her characters next as they embark on a new chapter of life. 

Overall

Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez takes you on a beautiful journey with an inspiring and strong female lead. The magical elements, gorgeous imagery, and heartbreaking story makes for a great start to a series. Sweet Black Waves is a magnificent read that will leave you wanting more.


bea

BookExpo 2018 Recap

Thursday, June 07, 2018

I had such a blast last week as last week was one of the biggest bookish events of the year. BookExpo, once titled BEA (BookExpo of America), takes place in the Javits Convention Center in New York City every year around the last week of May. For the entire week, the city comes alive with bookish events, mostly free: signings, meet and greets, and more.


I haven’t been to the event in two years but I’ve been saving up some money and decided to treat myself with a week-long trip to the city. I am so incredibly grateful that I was able to participate in BookExpo and can not wait to see what next year will bring. Without further ado, here’s my recap of the fun-filled week:

Bloomsbury Tour

I started the wonderful week off on Tuesday with a small tour of the Bloomsbury Publishing offices. This event was held by Blogbound, which I attended later on that evening. All the people I met at this event were absolutely lovely. The tour was small, about 15 people. It was amazing to get the chance to see the inside of a publishing house. The floor was an open floor concept office space while the walls were lined with bookshelves. It was magnificent. There was even a small shrine of books by Sarah J. Maas in the middle of the aisle in celebration of her recent release, A Court of Frost and Starlight. The whole place felt like home.


The YA publicists met us in a conference room and introduced us to several releases coming out soon. Definitely check these books out:


Imprison the Sky by A.C. Gaughen (1/22/19) | The Girl King by Mimi Yu (1/8/19) | The Brink of Darkness by Jeff Giles (7/10/18)

Blogbound

Later that evening, I attended Blogbound which is put on by other book bloggers. I’ve never been before and it was a lovely event. There were several panels to choose from, from getting over slumps to how bloggers got their start. It was thought provoking and a great way to meet other fellow bloggers. At the end of the panels, they had four authors participate in a sort of author speed dating event where they would each sit at a table and bloggers got to ask them anything they wanted about their new books. That was one of the best times of the event as I got to hear more about books I haven’t heard about. Also, after that, there was a book and swag table that everyone could take a look at. I was able to get a lovely poster of Meet Cute which is an anthology I am excited to read soon. I, also, received some amazing books:


When Life Gives You Demons by Jennifer Honeybourn (7/17/18) | The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman (7/31/18) | Sadie by Courtney Summers (9/4/18)

BookExpo Day 1


BookExpo is hard to describe because each day really feels like a blur of meeting people, waiting in lines, and chatting with authors. My favorite part of the first day has got to be the time I got to meet Anna Godbersen for the first time. I am such a fun of The Luxe series and her Bright Young Things series so meeting her was a huge highlight of the whole convention. I got to tell her how she truly made me the reader I am today. It was so fantastic! I, also, was able to snag her new book among a few others:


A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan (8/14/18) | When We Caught Fire by Anna Godbersen (10/2/18) | Odd One Out by Nic Stone (10/9/18) | Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan (11/6/18)

BookExpo Day 2


The first day of the convention seemed to be much busier than the second. However, despite the second day’s slow pace, I still had a blast networking with publishers and talking with authors. The big highlight of day 2 has got to be meeting A.C. Gaughen, author of Reign the Earth which is my favorite book of this year so far. Besides being able to receive an early copy of Imprison the Sky (which doesn’t release until January of next year), I was able to get so many amazing books this day too:


Black Wings Beating by Alex London (9/25/18) | Unclaimed Baggage by Jen Doll (9/18/18) | Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (8/28/18) | Mirage by Somaiya Daud (8/28/18)


Overall, I had such a great time! I am so grateful that I get to attend such an amazing conference! BookExpo and all the other events that took place last week was truly magical. I can’t wait to read all the books I received, as well as add several more to my never-ending tbr pile.

Did you attend BookExpo? How did you like it? Which upcoming book are you most excited for this fall?

Top Ten Tuesday

10 Books I Wish I Hadn't Finished

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

There’s something you should know about my reading. I always finish a book. I don’t think there is even a time that I consider not finishing the book. If I end up disliking the book, I will push through to the end. If something were to happen: as if I was in the middle and had to return it to the library, I always find a way to finish the book anyway.

There are times, especially with nonfiction, that I will take breaks in between. Most recently, I did this with Outlander because the book is so huge and the font so tiny. I stopped halfway through to read something else and then I returned to it. I never not finish a book. However, if I were to not finish a book, I suppose it would be the following since I really had to push through these to get to the end. Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is: Top 10 Books I Wish I Hadn't Finished:


Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley: This is such a cover buy if I’ve ever seen one. It, also, was recommended to me by a fellow blogger. The premise had amazing potential but then there were talking, and even singing, birds. And I will not be continuing this series.

Carrie Pilby by Caren Lissner: I received this way before I started blogging, before I really knew what I liked to read. The movie was releasing so I decided to give the book a go and it just fell flat to me. This is one of those books that I could probably say, “it was me, not you.”

The Last American Vampire by Seth Grahame-Smith: I adored the first book, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, so I immediately picked up its sequel and it flopped for me. Whereas Lincoln’s story focused on him and his presidency, the sequel spans centuries of history and feels too jumbled.


The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton: I tend to give Walton another try. This is the first I have read from her and despite not liking this one, I’ve heard amazing things about her debut. While the book was written beautifully, I felt like it was missing something and the character development was lacking.

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender: I went into this book thinking it was a retelling of Marie Antoinette. Wouldn’t that have been awesome? Instead, it’s a string of unlikable characters getting killed by the ghost of Marie Antoinette. This was most definitely not for me.

Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff: Another book that was not for me was this one. It’s about a boy who gets grounded so he spends his time playing video games. It was a good book and I did like the story but it wasn’t my favorite.


Shade Me by Jennifer Brown: Jennifer Brown is such an incredible author so when I heard she was releasing a mystery contemporary series, I wanted to try it. And I just wasn’t crazy about it. It was riddled with tropes and clichés that had me laughing aloud. 

Run by Kody Keplinger: Kody Keplinger is also a favorite author of mine but Run is my least favorite of her work. The book focuses very much on the characters which I much prefer a balance between plot and characters rather than one central focus. 

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: I wanted to give this one a try because the movie was releasing and I couldn’t see it unless I had read the book. I’m glad I finished this to the end since I now know that thrillers are not really my thing, especially when they involve such unreliable characters. 


Reunited by Colleen Houck: I don’t want this one to be on the list because I absolutely love this series but ugh. The conclusion to the Reawakened series was so disappointing. If I had stopped before the very end, I could have pretended it had ended there and maybe I would have been alright. 

What book did you have to push through to finish?